The Effects of Drug and Alcohol Abuse and Your Weight

19 May

One of the most tell-tale signs of drug and alcohol abuse is a noticeable change in a person’s weight.  In general, stimulants such as crystal meth and cocaine will cause dramatic weight loss as they cause powerful hunger suppression.  Depressants such as alcohol and marijuana cause weight gain due to the high caloric properties of alcohol and the tendency to binge on foods while under the influence of marijuana, alcohol or both.

Weight Loss

Amphetamines and methamphetamines, including speed, meth, and cocaine, are the typical culprit of weight loss for people in active addiction.  For example, meth turns off your body’s hunger response.  The longer you use, the thinner you become, and with very long periods of use, your ribs and bones may have started showing. The stomach becomes tiny and your body becomes starved of the necessary nutrients it needs to perform at its best.  If you or anyone you know exhibits any of these symptoms, it would be wise to arrange a consultation at a drug and alcohol rehab center.  Meth is a vicious drug that can take a person from healthy to frail in a relatively short period of time.

Many times people will take meth or some other form amphetamine, such as Adderall, to lose weight on purpose.  While it may work for a short period of time, using meth in this way can cause your body great harm.  When your body isn’t getting enough nutrients, it will go into starvation mode.  Over time, your will lose enough body mass that your body has no choice but to start eating away at your muscles because it has no other sources of energy which it can use.

Besides a host of other negatives, using meth in this manner is only a temporary stop gap.  Real, meaningful change starts with changing your habits, not taking any substances as you please to manage your weight.  Drug and alcohol rehab is a good place to start if you want to make lifelong changes.

Weight Gain

Alcohol is the primary substance that can cause significant weight gain.  All kinds of alcohol contain a massive amount of calories with no nutritional value whatsoever.  Single beers can be 200 calories.  Wine and hard alcohol are no better, with hard alcohol often being mixed with sugary drinks and both containing more calories than most beers.

If you drink alcoholically daily, you could easily be consuming 1500 or more extra calories every day with 5 or more drinks.  In addition, the effects of alcohol create hunger, which is already amplified due to the fact that your body gets no nutrition from it.  So it is likely you may binge on some unhealthy fast food in addition to all the alcohol calories you drank.

Physically, alcohol does a great job and preventing your body from working the way it should.  High levels of alcohol in your body slow down many necessary processes, such as digestion.  While in your body, alcohol actually speeds up your metabolism because it has to work hard to remove the alcohol from your body.  The liver can only do so much, and while it focuses on that, it ignores other functions.  Chronic alcohol abuse will eventually cause liver damage and leads to other problems in your kidneys, heart, and brain.


Depending on your drug of choice, you will generally see your weight move in the opposite direction post recovery.  Meth users will gain weight rapidly, making up for years of lost nutrition.  Alcoholics generally lose a significant amount of weight, after going to drug and alcohol rehab.  Without any substances in the way, you will become more active without trying.

Food is rewarding and sometimes becomes a crutch as people who get sober may transfer their addiction to food.  It is important to not let this happen and to get the help you need and treat these problems at the root, instead of just managing the symptoms.  When you look good, you feel good!